Quote 2 – Book “Secrets of the Soil”

Introduction: pg. xvi-xxi
It remained for a German chemist, Fritz Haber, to discover in 1905 a laboratory process for turning the endless tons of free nitrogen in the air into liquid ammonia, 82 percent of which is nitrogen. By 1915 Karl Bosch, a German engineer, joined Haber in designing the first synthetic ammonia plant in the Reich, enabling the German High Command to indulge in the Kaiser’s war. German dye firms, banding together for patriotism and for profit, produced explosives, chemical fertilizers, drugs, and, as a bonus, the poison gases responsible for some 800,000 casualties in World War I.
With the end of hostilities, the huge amounts of gas left over were redirected to the insect…but on a wider scale, thanks to the improved methods of dusting and spraying developed on humans by the military. Increased doses of nitrogen, no longer needed for their resistance to insects, creating a vicious circle that snowballed as it endured, progressively more profitable for the few as it poisoned soil and aquifer for the many.
German chemical companies, with money for their opposite numbers in the United States…who had made equally enormous profits from the war…amalgamated in 1925 to form the I.G. Farben conglomerate, soon the largest chemical enterprise in Europe, closely bonded with its U.S. partners. Together these conglomerates funded Hitler, rearming his Wehrmacht as a “bulwark against the Soviets.” And with petroleum, courtesy of Standard Oil of New Jersey, Hitler was enabled to roll his tanks into Poland and into Word War II.
While loyal GIs desperately struggled with their lives to undo this handiwork, at Auschwitz I.G. Farben, with slave labour guaranteed by Himmler, produced a special gas to exterminate millions of unwary victims, mostly Jewish.
From World War II, American chemical companies, which had boomed between the wars, derived and even greater bonanza from the free ammonia Bosch had prestidigitated from the air. A million tons of bombs were dropped on Germany alone, causing millions of dollars to be funneled by U.S. taxpayers into chemical company coffers.
At war’s end, eighteen new ammonia factories, developed in the U.S. at taxpayers’ expense to manufacture explosives, were obliged to find a market for their surplus. Du Pont, Dow, Monsanto, American Cyanamid, with their vast wartime profits, produced ever more fertilizer to dump on the unwary farmer, who dumped it onto his fields to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
As a by-product of the war, to keep fleas, lice, and other insects from contaminating GI troops, one of the most toxic pollutants ever invented was produced by a Swiss chemist, Paul Mueller, who chose to give the secret of its manufacture to the Allies: DDT. Derived entirely from the test tube, it was the most potent insecticide yet seen, capable of killing all sorts of bugs in a broad spectrum with astonishing speed and efficiency. On the home front, with manpower critically short, farmers used it against insects to increase crop yields and save on labour.
Following the Allied victory in 1945, DDT began to be used like water, until the toxin seeped into every animal and human body in America. Everywhere, chemical firms reinvested their wartime gains to launch into unparalleled growth in a massive quest for new synthetic broad-spectrum pesticides. The farmer,  fearing disaster…his plants, weakened by a surfeit of chemicals, were attracting more and more bugs…turned to even more chemicals. Complacently, the companies brought out new products by the score, mostly chlorinated hydrocarbons similar to DDT, such as chlorodane, heptachlor, dieldrin, aldrin, and endrin; and “organic phosphates” such as parathion and malathion.
In an attempt to beat the game by ever greater production, trusting farmers in America, prodded by bankers, chemical companies, and the manufacturers of agricultural machinery, changed from a subsistence way of life to commercial enterprises, investing large cash payments in new land and equipment, going heavily into debt on fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides…and, in so doing, sealed their own doom.
That chemicals were pointlessly poisoning the soil, killing microorganisms, stunting plants and proliferating degenerative disease in man and beast was perfectly clear to a whole group of sensitive minds in Europe and America as early as Word War I. Distinguished, distressed, and well-informed, several authors on both sides of the Atlantic were speaking up and propagandizing for a viable alternate method of agriculture requiring no chemicals.
Their main premise was that in soil properly nourished with adequate supplies of humus, crops do not suffer from disease, and do not require poisonous sprays to keep off parasites; that animals fed on these plants develop a high degree of disease resistance, and that man, nurtured with such plants and animals can reach an extraordinary (and in fact quite natural) standard of health, able to resist disease and infection from whatever cause it may derive.
One of the first to sense that the use of chemical fertilizers was doing more harm than good, that it was destroying the life and vitality of topsoil, momentarily stimulating plant growth but actually inviting disease, was Sir Albert Howard. As a British colonial officer in India, with the high-sounding title of Imperial Chemical Botanist to the Government of the Raj at Pusa, Sir Albert had the rare opportunity of being free to carry out experiments without restraints, enabling him to grow whatever crops he liked in any way he liked with land, money, and facilities provided by the government.
He was thus able to observe, dispassionately, and with no axe to grind, the reaction of suitable and properly grown varieties of plants when subjected to insects and other potential pests. He found that the factor that most mattered in soil management was a regular supply of freshly made humus, prepared from animal and vegetable wastes, and that the maintenance of soil fertility was the fundamental basis of health.
He claimed that his crops, grown on land so treated, resisted all the pests that were rife in the district and that this resistance was passed on to the livestock when they were fed on crops so grown. He noticed that the natives never used artificial fertilizers or poison sprays, but were extremely careful in returning all animal and plant residues to the soil. Every blade of grass that could be salvaged, all leaves that fell, all weeds that were cut down found their way back into the soil, there to decompose into humus and reenter the cycle of life.
Sir Albert proved that livestock fed on organically grown fodder were disease resistant, as were his oxen, which even during an epidemic of hoof-and-mouth disease rubbed noses with infected neighboring stock with no ill effects. “The healthy, well-fed animals reacted towards the disease exactly as improved and properly cultivated crops did to insect and fungi…no infection occurred.”
As a result of his experiments, Sir Albert reached the conclusion that crops have a natural power of resistance to infection, and that proper nutrition is all that is required to make this power operative. “But the moment we introduce a substitute phase in the nitrogen cycle by means of artificial manures, like sulphate of ammonia, trouble begins which invariably ends with some outbreak of disease, and by the running out of the variety.”
Crops and livestock raised on land made fertile by his methods of humus treatment attained a high measure of immunity from infective and parasitic, as well as from degenerative, diseases. Further, his treatment appeared to be curative as well as preventive.
By 1916 Sir Albert was lecturing that chemical fertilizers were a waste of money, maintaining that organic matter , along with the good aeration it promoted, was alone enough to allow microbes to provide sufficient amounts of nutrients to feed the world.
Returning to England in 1931 after thirty years in India, Sir Albert became known as the founder of the “organic” movement and set about popularizing his ideas. By the beginning of the Second World War he had brought out his Agricultural Testament, followed, when the shooting was over, by The Soil and Health, a book in which he warned that the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers leads to imperfectly synthesized protein in leaves, and thus results in many of the diseases found in plants, animals, and human beings. As a healthy alternative he pleaded for a simple system in which these proteins are produced from freshly prepared humus and its derivatives, in which case he averred that “all goes well; the plant resists disease and the variety is, to all intents and purposes, eternal.”
In vain did such stalwart supporters of Sir Albert as Lady Eve Balfour do battle for his cause in Britain, organizing the Soil Association, and producing a thoroughly convincing work entitled The Living Soil. It validated Howard’s basic premise that humus confers on plants a power of disease resistance amounting almost to immunity, something which cannot be obtained with artificial fertilizers.
In lucid terms Lady Eve pointed out that the action of compost is not due to the plant nutrients it contains, but to its biological reaction, which has the effect of fundamentally modifying the soil microflora. “All these substances are merely some of the raw materials from which humus can be made. They cannot become humus until they have been metabolized by soil organisms.”
But the odds were too heavily stacked against her. Imperial Chemicals forged ahead unmolested. In the United States, J.I. Rodale picked up the banner and launched a movement with his Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine, its tenets supported by Pay Dirt, published in 1945. At Emmaus, Pennsylvania, Rodale created an experimental organic farm and was active in organizing organic garden clubs throughout the United States. He pointed out that in China organic agriculture was able to feed a population on nine hundred million, nearly as many livestock, and on about the same amount of arable land as is available in the United States, three times the number of hogs.
He quoted reports from travelers to China to the effect that there was no starvation, poverty, or the like, all without huge doses of chemicals, insecticides, and heavy, petroleum-gobbling machines, but only by careful composting of all organic stuff and a labor-intensive method.
Scientific support for the argument for organic farming came in lapidary language from one of the most brilliant soil scientist produced in America, Dr. William A. Albrecht, Chairman of the Department of Soils at the University of Missouri, with four degrees from the University of Illinois. Widely traveled, he had studied the soils of Great Britain, the European continent, and Australia, drawing conclusions seasoned by a farm boy’s upbringing. His extensive experiments with growing plants and animals substantiated his observation that a declining soil fertility, due to a lack of organic material, major elements, and trace minerals, was responsible for poor crops and in turn for pathological conditions in animals fed deficient foods from such soils, and that mankind was no exception. Degenerative diseases, as causes of death in the United States, had risen from 39 percent of the population in the decade 1920-29 to 60 percent in the year 1948.
Organic matter, said Albrecht, may be called the constitution of the soil. And a good constitution, he added wryly, is the capacity, according to its meaning as used in the medical profession, of an individual to survive despite the doctors rather than because of them. Insects and disease, he pointed out, are the symptoms of a failing crop, not the cause. “The use of poisonous sprays is an act of desperation in a dying agriculture. Fertilizer placement is the art of putting salt in the ground so that plant roots can somehow manage to avoid it!”
In sum he preached that weeds are an index to the character of the soil. It is therefore a mistake to rely on herbicides to eradicate them, since the chemicals deal with effect, not cause. Insects and nature’s predators are disposal crews, summoned when they are needed, repelled when they are not. Crop losses in dry weather, or during mild cold snaps, are not so much the result of drought and cold as of nutrient deficiency. NPK [nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium] formulas, as legislated and enforced by State Departments of Agriculture, mean malnutrition, attack by insects, bacteria, and fungi, weed takeover, crop loss in dry weather, and general loss of mental acuity in the population, leading to degenerative metabolic disease and early death.
The vast bibliography of Albrecht’s scientific and popular papers reveals a lifetime of meticulous scientific investigation into the chemistry and biology of the planet, highlighting the fundamental necessity for feeding plants, animals, and humans through ministrations to the soil itself, correcting deficiencies of diet at their point of origin: the soil.
In 1939 Louis Bromfield, author of The Rains Came, etc., returned from the India of Sir Albert Howard to his Malabar Farm in Pleasant Valley, Ohio, to put Howard’s agricultural philosophy in to practice. Working with Albrecht, he bought up several wornout farms and produced abundant crops with organic techniques. In a practical way he proved that insect damage and disease could be controlled with humus, good plant nutrition, and sound soil management.
Were Thomas E. Dewey to have defeated Harry S. Truman in 1948, Bromfield was slated to become U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, with every intention of “derailing the fossil-fuel technology that had taken command of the education machine, USDA, Extension, and the farm press.”
But Truman’s triumph brought in the policy of deliberately banishing small farmers to industrial centers and of unleashing the petrochemicals. Through Truman’s creation of the CIA and of a National Security Council trained for “dirty tricks”, the multinationals were able, often through the guise of foreign aid, to impose their deadly chemicals not only on America, North and South, but on all the Third World markets. Sir Albert’s Indians were brainwashed and corrupted into dousing their healthy plants with all kinds of poisons. Chemical-fertilizer consumption in India rose from 1.1 million tons in 1966-67 to 50 million tons in 1978-79.(1)
(1) During the late 1960s the United States and World Bank applied pressure on India to allow Western chemical companies such as Standard Oil of California and International Minerals & Chemicals to build fertilizer plants on the subcontinent. Collusion is indicated by the fact that farmers received subsidies from the Indian government of 10 to 20 percent on fertilizers and 25 percent on pesticides, plus government-backed loans to pay for them. As a result, fertilizer consumption in one area of India rose between 1969 and 1979 from 3.5 to 50 kilograms per hectare (a hectare is about an acre and a half).
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